Free AgencySpeculation

Hey Ragnar, Can We Go Thrift Shopping?

Prior to free agency I narrowed down five guys I thought might make some sense for the Vikings to target.  Two of them received reported interest from Minnesota and one of them actually ended up signing, so I’m feeling all full of glee about that, and want to give it another shot.

The second wave of free agency is still in progress with a number of higher end players still hanging out there (especially in the aging pass rusher department), but let’s get a jump start on looking for some bargains in the basement.  Here are five that I’d consider:

5.  Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Age 31

Let me start out by saying that I assume the Vikings will go into camp with four quarterbacks, which means they still need to add two.  While I don’t feel as comfortable saying this with certainty, I do think there is a good chance the Vikings part ways with Christian Ponder before training camp, and that would leave them needing to add yet another quarterback.

The Titans released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this week at the age of 31.  Fitzpatrick started nine games for the Titans last season, with Jake Locker missing time due to injury, and fared pretty well.  He threw for 14 touchdowns on a 62% completion percentage, ran the ball pretty well which included three more scores, and misfired on 12 interceptions.

Like Matt Cassel, the Vikings wouldn’t be getting a franchise quarterback by signing Fitzpatrick, but they would be getting a dependable and experienced veteran that is sure to be relatively inexpensive.  If the Vikings are really going to draft their franchise quarterback this May, then I’d rather have Cassel and Fitzpatrick ushering him into the NFL than an eager-to-move-on Christian Ponder.

4.  James Starks, RB, Age 28

The running back market has been moving slow, thus far, but I’m surprised that James Starks hasn’t generated a little more interest.  Starks’ time in Green Bay essentially proved he isn’t an every-down starter, but he equally proved his worth as a third down back that knows how to catch a football and can be a dependable blocker.

Starks is coming off of a really strong year, despite the emergence of Eddie Lacy, and he averaged a very respectable 5.5 yards per carry and a career high three touchdowns.  Over four seasons, Starks has caught 45 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown.  He is obviously capable of playing outdoors, has a familiarity with the NFC North, and should see his durability concerns limit his salary demands.

I guess I’m saying is:  I’d rather him be Adrian Peterson’s primary backup than Eddie Lacy’s.

3.  Corey Wootton, DE, Age 26

The Vikings starting defensive line looks to be forming up quite nicely, but the next step has to be to add quality players to the rotation, just as it looked like they were trying to do with Henry Melton.  Actually, behind Everson Griffen and Brian Robison, there isn’t much in the way of depth at defensive end.

It’s a little mysterious that Corey Wootton hasn’t gotten more attention on the open market.  After a slow start to his career, Wootton seemed to flourish in 2012 when he posted seven sacks and played all 16 games.  In 2013, however, the Bears experienced injury problems at defensive tackle and Wootton was forced to slide inside where he was out of position, but doing his best.

Wootton is a decent run-stopping defensive end that could occasionally surprise a few offensive tackles with his pass rush.  He has experiencing moving around the defensive line and is relatively young, so I think he could just be the perfect compliment to Everson Griffen on our defensive line.

2.  Pat Angerer, MLB, Age 27

The Vikings are preparing to have middle linebacker be the second most-watched positional battle in training camp.  They might as well keep throwing names into the mix.

Angerer was looking to be one of the top young linebackers on the rise through his first two NFL seasons, but injuries derailed his ascension in 2012 and once again showed up in 2013.  Angerer had to have knee surgery in December, but he recently said he should be ready to practice in June or July, so he could make it into training camp just in time to make a case for himself.

At the very least, it might be a good idea for the Vikings to bring the free agent in for a visit and let head trainer Eric Sugarman start a file on him, because there are no promises that middle linebacker won’t still be a need this time next year.

1.  Chris Clemons, S, Age 28

With Harrison Smith intimidating the heck out of any of our opponents, it sure would be nice to solidify the other safety spot, preferably with someone that can cover deep.  Chris Clemons has been a solid safety in his five seasons with the Dolphins.  He has also been quite durable, which is the most underrated quality a safety can possess in my mind.

Clemons isn’t going to blow you away with his interception totals or huge hits, but he is a veteran that knows how to play the game with consistency, and would be a great compliment for Smith as Mike Zimmer tries to dig this defense out of the gutter.


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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Good list Adam…Adding Fitz couldn’t hurt….fear the beard. The more QB’s we get the better chance Ponder will be gone.
    Cory Wooten…that the dude that knocked Favre out for good?

  2. Uh … Clemons signed with Jacksonville.

    Maybe Nate Allen? I am thinking the Vikings may not be looking at any free agent safeties.

    1. Actually, I believe it was the DE also named Chris Clemons who signed with the Jags. The Safety with the same name is still available.

  3. I would rather draft two qb,s(that is what I hope the vikings do) than sign Fitzpatrick.

    1. not a bad stradegy……increases the odds of finding that “franchise” QB….miss on both, you’re fired….hit on one, we’re set…..hit on both and we always have trade value…..

  4. Definitely not a fan of Fitzpatrick (and neither is Arif, IIRC) but I do like the idea of Pat Angerer. I’m almost always willing to take a chance on a guy with injury concerns, given that their pricetags are often significantly lower.

  5. we got CBs and D-lineman, so a LB would be cool, but the big one is QB, and that will come from the draft, and we’d better not miss. we already have our temp starter/mentor QB. ponder or another could just be a camp arm for now

  6. Wootton would be a great signing IMO. Good young talent that still has upside and can be a solid producer in the DL rotation. I would love to see the Vikes sign Melton and Wootton and fill the other positions through the draft. A dominant front makes life easier for the LBs and DBs.

  7. I pretty much agree with everything except Fitz, just don’t see the need for second (and maybe a third if Ponder stays,) backup QB.
    We’ll get our guy in the draft and Cassel will play this year, maybe next and our guy will be ready to take over in the new stadium in 2015.
    I do like the rest of your picks, especially Angerer. What a great name for MLB.

  8. I agree with everything except adding Fitzpatrick. Cassel starts, Ponder plays backup, then take 2 QB’s in the draft. Take one in the second round, and another in the fourth or fifth. Then let them fight for “clipboard duty” during training camp, and send the loser to the practice squad. That way we have a veteran who can win games, a veteran backup, and two more in development. Release Ponder after next season, and move the clipboard guy up to the backup QB position, with one year remaining on Cassel’s contract. The end.

    1. Forest the GM… have my vote….my mamma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their posts…..

  9. I seem to be with the majority here. I like them all, except for the former Crimson. I think we already have him in Cassel. I like the Wootton suggestion the best, and I’m pretty sure he is the one who ended Favre’s career. I guess Mt. Worthless is actually the person responsible for Favre’s final play, but Wootton was the Bear who made the sack at TCF. Wootton seems like an example of what Spielman looks for; young, position of need, plays multiple positions, cheap, and at 6′-6″ and 270 fits the size Zimmer likes. I don’t know why he’s not in Minnesota.

  10. That was sure fun reading that! I especially liked the very last 2 sentences;

    “The Vikings have a defense that is trending up. It’s now worth wondering just how big a jump this group could take in 2014.”

    That’s the million dollar question. I’m guessing it’s going to be a HUGE jump up.

    1. Yeah, the signings the Vikes are making are kind if flying under the radar a bit. I think that is the way Zim wants it.

  11. The one thing I do not get is why the Vikes are trying to resign Charlie Johnson when there is much better options available.

    1. I don’t know that there were “much” better options in free agency, but according to CBS Sports the worst rated OG available in free agency signed a 2 year deal with the Vikings about an hour ago.

  12. If we cut Ponder we still have his $ counting against us. Fitzpatrick is not enough of an upgrade to warrant additional cap space. Pass.

    1. I would have to put this as the worst signing by far. I just hope there is very little if any guaranteed money with that contract.

      1. Yeah, this one kinda makes me lose some confidence. It’s being reported as a 2 year $5 million deal, no info on the guarantee yet, but I can’t imagine anyone else offering him that kind of money. I can understand bringing him back on a one year vet minimum, but this contract points to him being the clear cut starter at a position we really could use an upgrade. I’m a little surprised by how many guys from a last place team they are bringing back, especially with a new coaching staff in place.

        1. I believe we all have to look at the Guaranteed money in the deal, which I have heard speculated on other sites it was nearly zero (I looked and could not find anywhere so far). So if we cut him in August because he is playing poorly, it costs us very little. If he plays better than last year and would help us with depth at both OT & OG, then he saves us a roster spot & the signing might barely clear the C- grade level. If we are smart enough to draft one of the many sound OG’s in the draft, he won’t be here for long and with little damage done.

  13. it’s so cool listening to interviews that tells me that players want to play for our coaching staff. confirms that we got good coaching. we haven’t won anything yet, but man, this is exciting

  14. Regarding on going communication w/ Melton – Our offer must be competitive and he is maybe looking for a sweetener? Either way I think we need a decision from him soon. I think we need to put our best offer on the table for Melton right now. Add a sweetner now and call it our best.

    We need to be ready to move on DRC if he leaves NYJ w/o a deal. DRC probably is a long shot, but I think we can still get him under cap.

  15. I would pass on Fitz as he does little for me when we get a rookie QB. Starks would be okay but I think a later round RB would suffice. I really like 3, 2, 1 – in particular #3 & #2. We could use an LB like Angerer and DE depth is a problem at the moment (unless we draft a DE) so Wooten would be an excellent signing. Safty I could go either way. I am hoping we get one of the top 5 safties in this draft. It would amp up our pass coverage and bring the pain on the crossing routes.